Hollywood special effects blockbuster as social commentary? Whereas, other Hollywood 'disaster' films tended towards cataclysmic events that were either out of our control(eg. Armageddon, Deep Impact, Twister) or were born out of rather contrived movie making(eg. The Core), The Day After Tommorow is predicated on the quite relevant issue of global warming. Global warming is quite within humanity's grasp to manage but whether humanity is willing to take the necessary steps towards preventing a bleaker future for our children and our children's children remains to be seen.
But of course with any Hollywood blockbuster, it's all about the special effects and The Day After Tomorrow succeeds overwhelmingly in this respect. The natural disaster segments such as the tornadoes, tidal waves and 'The Storm' were spectacular. But even moreso, were the film's depiction of New York City as it was transformed from the city it once was to one enveloped completely in snow and ice. Seeing Dennis Quaid's character(who plays a climatologist) walking over a frozen New York Harbour into downtown Manhattan, itself completely enveloped in snow and ice, was very dramatic. The film uses recognizable landmarks such as The Statue of Liberty in New York City or the Hollywood sign in Los Angeles to add a sense of familiarity.
On the other side of the coin, The Day After Tomorrow delves into the personal lives of the characters, but moreoften than not the acting is entrenched in cliche or melodrama. The film features several recognizable actors such as Dennis Quaid who plays a climatologist, Jake Gyllenhaal who plays his son, and Sela Ward who is Dennis characters wife. The actors are quite adequate but the screenplay was just atrocious sometimes, especially when Dennis Quaid's character decides to travel to New York City to find his son during "The Storm". If you see the film, you will see how preposterous Dennis Quaid's character's actions were.
The scientific basis of the events in the film were adequately explained and convincing although there was still an element of fantasy that remained. I doubt anyone leaving the theatre was convinced that anything in the film could actually happen in real life on the same scale, especially within our lifetime. However, I wouldn't have been surprised if some people came out of the theatre and pondered whether they themself do enough to help the environment, or more specifically reduce harmful ozone emissions. Considering the number of cars in the parking lot(myself and my friend included, in separate cars no less, tsk, tsk), it'll take more than a movie to get people to reduce automobile use. On purely cinematic grounds, the film succeeds visually but fails in the screenplay department. More importantly, it'll make you think, at least for a moment.